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Runic Dictionary

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Hallvarðr háreksblesi (Hallv)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Matthew Townend;

Knútsdrápa (Knútdr) - 8

Hallvarðr (Hallv) is an obscure figure, and the poem edited here is his only extant work. In Skáldatal he is listed once, amongst Knútr Sveinsson’s (r. 1018-35) poets (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267, 282), and he also appears to be mentioned only once in saga-sources, namely in Tómasskinna’s account of Knútr’s attempt to recruit Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld to his service (ÓH 1941, II, 803): Þormodr þackade honum fyrer bodit. enn kuozt eigi fær til ath ganga j stad haufud skalldanna er uerit haufdu med Knuti konungi. Þorarins loftungu eda Halluardz eda Ottars eda Sighuatz ‘Þormóðr thanked him for the invitation, but he said he was not able to take the place of the chief poets who had been with King Knútr: Þórarinn loftunga or Hallvarðr or Óttarr or Sigvatr’. The significance of Hallvarðr’s nickname, which is attributed to him in ÓH (ÓH 1941, I, 477), Hkr (ÍF 27, 311) and Knýtl (ÍF 35, 103), is unclear: blesi means ‘blaze (on a horse’s head)’ and the word occurs mostly as a masculine nickname, but who Hárekr was, and why Hallvarðr should be ‘Hárekr’s blaze’, is unknown (see Finnur Jónsson 1907, 170, 198 and Lind 1920-1, col. 136).

Knútsdrápa (‘Drápa about Knútr’) — Hallv KnútdrIII

Matthew Townend 2017, ‘ Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 230. <> (accessed 19 September 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Hallvarðr háreksblesi: Knútsdrápa (AI, 317-18, BI, 293-4); stanzas (if different): 4 | 5

SkP info: III, 232

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Hallv Knútdr 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 232.

Vestr lézt í haf, hristir,
harðviggs, sikulgjarðar,
umbands allra landa,
íss, framstafni vísat.

{Hristir {íss sikulgjarðar}}, lézt framstafni {harðviggs {umbands allra landa}} vísat vestr í haf.

{Shaker {of the ice of the sword-belt}} [SWORD > WARRIOR], you caused the fore-stem {of the hard horse {of the encircling band of all lands}} [SEA > SHIP] to be directed west across the sea.

Mss: R(38r), Tˣ(39v), A(13r), C(7v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] hristir: so Tˣ, A, hristum R, C    [2] ‑viggs: so A, ‑vígs all others;    sikul‑: so Tˣ, A, ‘svikvl’ R, ‘suikvl’ C    [4] íss: ís all others

Editions: Skj: Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 2: AI, 317, BI, 293, Skald I, 149; SnE 1848-87, I, 496-7, II, 450, 599, III, 102, SnE 1931, 174, SnE 1998, I, 93; Frank 1994b, 119-20, Jesch 2000, 246.

Context: This stanza is quoted in Skm to illustrate the use of haf as one of the heiti for ‘sea’.

Notes: [2] sikulgjarðar ‘of the sword-belt’: Elsewhere in skaldic poetry this cpd occurs only in Þul Skipa 5/6 (see Note there), where it may indicate some sort of sail-rope (Fritzner records no occurrences in prose). Here, though, it is a determinant combining with the base-word íss ‘ice’ (l. 4) to form a sword-kenning, and earlier eds agree that ‘sword-belt’ is the likely meaning (LP: sikulgjǫrð; Frank 1994b, 120; Jesch 2000, 246; Faulkes, SnE 1998, II, 386), though Falk (1914b, 37) suggests some sort of baldric.  Spellings with initial <sv> in R and C may show uncertainty or confusion with ON svikall, ModIcel. svikull ‘treacherous’.

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